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Point Reyes National Seashore’s white deer are being slaughtered

By Gary Bogue
Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 7:45 am in Animal Politics, deer.

The government is busy these days. First they want to kill wolves in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming … and now the National Park Service is killing the white deer at Point Reyes.

The park service says the deer are not part of the native ecosystem, and they want them to be gone NOW. They plan to kill 1,100 non-native fallow and axis deer. There has been considerable debate on this, with many people and organizations arguing that the deer can be controlled by humane management and not killing.

1,100 deer is a lot of death.

I received the following information this morning from Friends of the White Deer:
This week, a major slaughter (about 400+ deer already killed to date) of the non-native deer at Point Reyes National Seashore here in California is scheduled to continue, according to local residents in the area. Hired killers from a company called White Buffalo, Inc. are being paid to do the dirty job.

The deer have been there since they were brought to the National Seashore in 1948.

Helicopters will herd a hundred deer into a “hole” where they will be shot en masse.

The roster of those opposed to this inhumane slaughter keeps growing. The Humane Society of the United States issued a letter and called on Senator Barbara Boxer to end the “futile, destructive, and inhumane” extermination program.

California State Senator Carole Migden, U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey, and California Assembly member Leno all support placing a moratorium on the killings until a better solution can be found. Elected officials are responding to the growing number of local residents, including many ranchers and hunters, who are strongly opposed to the inhumane killing. In addition, the Marin Humane Society, In Defense of Animals, and Wildcare, object to the specious “science” and inadequate consideration of alternatives as part of the National Park Service’s environmental impact statement.

“The Humane Society of the United States has become very concerned with the Park Service’s program apparently designed to exterminate non-native deer at Point Reyes National Seashore,” writes John Grandy, Senior Vice President, Wildlife and Habitat Program, HSUS. “We have contacted Senator Boxer’s office … to expand on these concerns and offer humane non-lethal alternatives for reducing vegetation changes caused by those species to acceptable levels, where necessary.”

You can find out more details on this at:


What can you do about it? Share this information with friends and ask them to check out the above Web sites. There has to be a better more humane way of resolving this problem than just slaughtering these animals. Thanks for caring! /Gary

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No Responses to “Point Reyes National Seashore’s white deer are being slaughtered”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Whether you like it or not, the eradication of Non-native species, whether they are boars, eucalyptus trees, or deer, is essential to creating a healthy ecosystem. While rounding them up and shooting them isn’t the most humane way to eradicate them, something still needs to be done to remove them completely from the Pt. Reyes National Seashore.
    This is not comparable to the destruction of wolves in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, etc. because they are native species that are essential to the health of those ecosystems. The White Deer at Pt. Reyes are quite the opposite.

  2. takeiteasy Says:

    I say remove the humans. We are the most non-native species and have been the most destructive. We are destroying the planet and it’s creatures. Throughout time, animals, people, planets, etc. have all migrated to non-native areas in order for them to survive…either by floating on logs, being blow in storms or just by moving in herds, many species found their way to places they had not previously been. Now that we humans have introduced these deer, we dumb humans need to find a humane way to control their population, but we should start by controling our own population.

  3. John Hadley Says:

    It is so sad to think of those beautiful creatures suffering terror and prolonged pain in death. There is no real ecosystem at Pt Reyes: the deer are top of the food chain since the predators were destroyed. Its contrived anyway and always will be. Also, the “natives” were only native very recently in evolutionary time. We should be capturing the deer of all breeds alive and moving them to Montana and alaska so the wolves can eat in the “wild”.

  4. Miriam Says:

    Dear Gary,
    I want to take a moment to thank you for writing about this. This experience has been an extremely painful one for all of the local people who have given their hearts to protecting these deer. It has been a shock to many of us that the NPS can go against the wishes even of groups so highly regarded as the Humane Society of the United States. Their word, when it comes to the humane treatment of animals, should be law in our country.

    I am grateful to you for sharing what is happening with your readers. This is such a wonderful website you are running. A pleasure to visit.

    I would also like to to take a moment to address Rachel’s concern that the Fallow and Axis deer are destroying the ecology of the seashore. It is important, Rachel, to share with you that there has been no factual, impartial study conducted to prove that these deer have impacted the environment here in any way. The park’s biologist, Natalie Gates, has publicly stated that rather than studying the deer, she just wants them killed. A very odd attitude for someone who calls themselves a scientist.

    The only study of this kind that was ever done was performed some 30 years ago in Mendocino County…not Marin County, by some independent researchers. The results of that study were that the ‘native’ Black-tailed deer were having a strong impact on their surroundings, but that the ‘non-native’ deer were not.

    Migration of people, plants and animals is the the natural history of our planet. If you live in California, many of the plants around you come from China. This is how the world works. To say it needs to be stopped is foolish. Biodiversity is what keeps our planet alive with smatterings of this and that all over the lands. It has always been this way.

    Nature takes care of itself. Where true overpopulations happen (which is absolutely not the case with the tiny number of deer in this HUGE park)nature sees to it that there is a die off. Nature balances itself.

    When we rush in with our guns, thinking we are in charge of this, presuming it is up to us to kill, manage, control, we look very foolish, very tiny, very puny compared to the great, ageless force of nature.

    Nonetheless, our weapons enable us to cause untold harm, and the suffering of these animals is what I would wish you could think of for a moment, Rachel, rather than the policy of ‘something needs to be done’. We can leave that something up to Nature, in nature’s own time, and not have blood on our hands.

    Wishing Gary and all his readers here well.

  5. Karen Says:

    I agree with Miriam, and she said it much better than I could have done. But I’d also like to ask why there are insufficient predators. Every year, here in the south bay, there are mountain lion sightings in the county parks; mountain lions are being crowded out of their habitats in many places in the western U.S. Can it possibly cost so much more to relocate a couple of big cats than it will to herd all those deer by helicopter, and then dispose of the carcasses?

    Certainly, importing large predators can cause problems, but having more balanced predator-prey relationships might mean that all Fish & Game would need to do is a bit of culling of one or the other.

    (And yes, I am proposing an actively-managed ecosystem, given that the area in question is so close to farmland and human habitation. I realize many environmentalists prefer to establish a natural ecology and leave the place alone, and they’re generally right — but not in this kind of setting.)

  6. Diana Says:

    And humans are also not native to most areas in which we now live, and in which we destroy ecosystems by the square mile. I hate speciesists who believe that humans have some divine right above all over species. This is a disgusting, and an outrage.

  7. Mike "troll" Dame Says:

    no way this is horrable, when i was a kid back in the 70s my middle school class helped raise money to help these deer up in point reyes even took a class camping trip and got to see them afterwards

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